Waukee Mom Turns Crusader for Others With Breast Cancer
Katie Mangan was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2009. Today she's cancer-free and helping others like her in the fight against the disease.
Imagine: You’re 30 years old, a mom of two young girls with a doting husband, great friends and a supportive family.
Yeah, life is good.
Then one day, you discover a lump in your breast.
That’s life in a nutshell for Katie Mangan. It was in April 2009 when the Waukee stay-at-home mom finished nursing her second child when she found a lump in her right breast.
A doctor thought enough of it to investigate further and on May 6, 2009, Mangan was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.
She wasn't about to hit the canvass; she embraced the fight.
“My first reaction? I was totally scared,” she recalled. “I remember thinking, What are my girls going to do without me if I can’t beat this? And Why me? But then I thought, Why not me? I knew I could turn the negative into something completely positive.”
And she did.
Today, after chemotherapy, a drug regime and a bilateral mastectomy, Mangan is cancer-free and helping others who are fighting the disease through a walk/run event called Katie’s Crusaders. The 5K/10K race started in 2009 as a fundraiser to help the Mangan family, including her husband, Tim, and daughters Haleigh, 7, and Hannah, 3.
That first year, friends and family raised $10,000 to offset Katie’s medical and prescription costs.
The race, now in its third year, raises money for other women (known as “The Crusaders”) whose stories are not unlike Katie’s. Last year, the race helped four women to the tune of $18,000. This year, four more crusaders have been tapped. Mangan said the goal this year is to raise $25,000 to help them in their fight against cancer.
One of last year’s crusaders, Kelli Schoney, 29, of West Des Moines, saw firsthand the value of Mangan’s efforts. After being diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in July 2010, Schoney said, it wasn’t just the money raised that helped her in the battle over breast cancer.
“It was really helpful to have had that extra money and, of course, the support of the community,” she said. “But when you go through something like breast cancer, you join a certain sisterhood. I felt a real connection to the crusaders.”
Schoney, now cancer-free and “thankful for all the support,” is giving back, too. This year she volunteered to be on the board of Katie’s Crusaders.
“I believe in giving back,” Schoney said. “I was once a recipient but I really wanted to be a part of the cause. I really feel this is something worth being a part of.”
Dr. Richard Deming, a Des Moines-based radiation oncologist, said stories like Mangan and Schoney’s are commonplace among cancer survivors.
“I see that time and time again, patients who are cancer survivors come through their experience with the realization that they got through this with the kindness and compassion of others,” he said. “It’s a real motivator to live life more fully, more authentically and with passion and compassion, and to reach out and make a difference.”